Antarctica is the last untouched continent, making it a desirable destination for the intrepid traveler. It has no indigenous people, no politics and no economy, yet it covers almost 10 percent of the earth's surface -- making it 1.5 times the size of the United States. Overwhelming and awe-inspiring, it has a raw, emotional effect on visitors that few destinations match and is often described as "visiting another planet." Still, only 35,000 tourists visit each year -- a small number compared with Alaska's 1 million cruise visitors.
The history of Antarctica's exploration includes Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen's famous race for the South Pole, as well as one of the greatest survival stories of all time. In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew set sail aboard Endurance on a quest to be the first to cross the southernmost continent over land. They abandoned their attempt when the ship was trapped in sea ice, but incredibly, thanks to Shackleton's courage and determination, all crewmembers survived.